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West End Out? Borough Council Votes to Shop for EMS Provider

Dissatisfied with the West End Fire Co.'s performance, the borough will seek bids.

With the West End Fire Company floundering, the Phoenixville Borough Council voted unanimously at its October 9 meeting to shop for a new EMS provider, The Times Herald is reporting.

According to the paper, councilman David Gautreau said the borough has grown displeased with the fire company’s EMS performance, citing a Labor Day incident and the fact that Spring City has already abandoned West End in favor of another provider.

He added that West End promised their truck to the Phoenixville Fire Department, but did not honor the deal.

Ron Sigismonti Jr., West End’s new ambulance coordinator, was present at the meeting. He acknowledged the service issues that have plagued the company, but said they can be rectified.

“I realize it’s not a good situation, I’m not arguing with that,” Sigismonti reportedly said. “I think I can come in and if I’m allowed to try and right the wrongs, [I think I can] work with everybody.”

The West End Professional Fire Fighters Association, in a letter it released to press before the meeting, said replacing the company might be good PR, but wouldn’t improve emergency services in the borough.

“Such a change in the EMS Unit would have no effect on the improvement of other services except the perception that something defective has been excised,” president Perry D. Kurtz wrote.

Gautreau said the bids could be voted on as soon as January and West End could well win back the contract. He conceded though that if a vote were held at the October meeting, his position on West End would be a firm "no."

Ed Roper October 17, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Is there anything you won't complain about?
Ed Roper October 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I'd like to know what the alternatives are, and how would they affect response time. I feel the public should know the options on the table and be able to provide input before council makes a decision that could potentially negatively impact public safety.
Kevin R Pound October 17, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Hey PFD and Borough Council: how's that consolidation plan working out? You know the one where all three companies get together as one big happy family?
Bob Domarasky October 17, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Wow we loose Friendship Fire Company several months ago and now West End EMS? What the hell is up with this? God forbid we need them for something and we have to wait longer for a response from an outside agency and something happens. At one time we had 3 fire companies and now we are down to 1? Come on folks think of the residents here in Phoenixville. We pay high taxes and need to be represented a little better than what we have been.
Kevin R Pound October 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Friendship still exists, but as a 100% diving rescue unit. An in-depth reporting of the politics behind the "consolidation" might raise some eyebrows. I thnk it's fair to say that the members of West End and Friendship did not give up on fire suppression willingly.
John C October 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Mr. pound, When Friendship was recieving money from the Borough to staff a driver and frienship was failing to respond because they had no driver, where were you to complain about the level of fire service then. My neighbor on the North Side had an emergency and the first fire truck to show up was from No. 1 Is that in the best puiblic interest or do you have blinders on to that. You feel that your company was done wrong, but the tax money being misued (since you were recieving boro money and not providing the driver) you had didn't speak. As I recall in recent council meetings friendship asked to not be named in the ordinance, but only as a provider of servid. the council did as your organization requested and then you all turn around and follow it up by incorrect, misleading rants on your dive site and send a letter to the boro asking to be taken off of all boro ordinaces and resolution. everyone is blaming the Boro and the FD for the situation with West End. has anyone asked why Spring City cut ties....our Boro and FD have no play in someone elses municipality. Sounds like problems are following one organization.
Robert J October 18, 2012 at 12:25 PM
West End EMS is serving the Community one beer at a time!!!!
Goddess October 18, 2012 at 03:35 PM
the consolidation plan IMGO appeared to be nothing more than the Borough Council looking to raid each location for cash to support their habit. they tried to appropriate themselves the trucks from two companies. they succeeded with Friendship on one level, but had to absorb their debt burden on that truck on another level. they failed to appropriate the West End 67 truck, since it is owned outright thanks to generous donations, so now they're looking to strip parts off the truck. no wonder Fire Chief James Gable wanted out! the Borough thinks it's the pimp, but it's just the hoe, and that hoe needs money!
no spring chicken October 18, 2012 at 03:41 PM
If something was to happen to me or anyone in my family, I would not want anyone but West End EMS to provide emergency care. They are some of the best medic's in the area. Don't blame the group for a few bad apples!!!!
LocalGirl October 19, 2012 at 08:15 PM
So what happens if the Boro selects another EMS provider, and I have a paid membership for West End? My membership means I will not be billed beyond what my insurance company pays. Will the new provider honor those memberships? How much taxpayer dollars are going to be wasted on this issue, and the inevitable legal battles that will ensue? Mr. Gautreau needs to be a bit more educated on how things will impact boro residents before he opens his mouth. I am tired of his incorrect rants...and then later apologies. I keep hearing what he is telling John Q. Public; maybe he doesn't realize that what he says gets back to other people? Caution, folks: when it comes to Mr. Gautreau, keep looking over your shoulder for the knife in your back. Sign me, Disgruntled Taxpayer
LocalGirl October 20, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Glad you think this all a joke, Mr. Gautreau. I'm one taxpayer who is not laughing. Not hiding, either. I am a local girl, born and raised here, and have volunteered to serve the community my entire life. Nothing fake about me. Or cowardly.
Ike October 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Tell em Girl,dont take no stuff!
Dave Gautreau October 20, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Actually you do bring up a good point for discussion with our new provider, if it is not West End. The donation aspect would have to be considered for a brief time frame. In all seriousness I do vote my heart and for the public safety first and foremost. I don't really care about the background political chatter between the organizations, I only care about making sure we pick a reliable, creditable EMS provider that we can count on and that is managed professionally.
Chris Gaudan October 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM
What I think is that West End has a few months to show that it wants to be and can be the EMS provider for the borough. Having been a volunteer EMT and FF for West End I know full well the capabilities they have and have developed over the years. I also believe Dave Gautreau has the best interest of Phoenixville at mind and I am fully confident that he will work to ensure the borough makes the right choice. They've brought in Mr. Sigismonti to work out the issues and I think we ought to give him a chance and see what comes of it. And, P.S. I think the mural looks awesome.
John C October 21, 2012 at 06:29 PM
So LocalGirl, you say you have a paid membership with the West End. What happens when they don't cover their EMS units with the correct staffing and are out of service for hours and the only EMS unit coming is from East Vincent who is staffed correctly and covering the Phoenixville Area and East Vincent area? IS that OK as long as you get your moneys worth? People need to dig deeper into the West End to see what the issue is, not tke shots at the FD or the Boro? When West End provided the 24/7/365 coverage to all areas regularly no one said a word about their level of care or profesionalism. Obviously something has gone wrong internally there for, not just Phoenixville, but other municipalities to consider changing their EMS provider. Legal Battels over Membership?? Never saw any come out of Spring City being ran out of business by West End several years ago.
LocalGirl October 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
John C-- I have no doubt that West End has been struggling with leadership lately. But there is much more going on behind the scenes, of which the general public is unaware. The Boro has already spent an unknown amount of legal fees (I would like to know HOW much) for the "consolidation" effort that fell through. I saw in a public statement that more legal fees were going to be spent as the Boro/FD tries to recover equipment which has disputed ownership. I just question how much is being spent, and if it is worth the "return on investment," if you will. I know the lawyers are happy...but as a taxpayer, I am not. As far as the membership issue and the comparison to Spring City, that territory made up a fraction of West End's area, so I think the paid membership issue has a much greater effect for the local area. Goddess has a great comment...she (?) was at least 95% correct on what is REALLY going on.
P-ville resident forever October 21, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Here's what I can read from this one sided article; the borough had consolidated firehouses to save money and a lack of volunteers under Gable's rein. Now we depend on surrounding firehouses to cover the increased lack of coverage since then. The borough is upset and has a personal vendetta against West End for changing their mind about donating the firetruck (a major asset). Where's the truth in this article?!
P-Ville Resident and Past Volunteer October 22, 2012 at 01:31 AM
P-ville resident and past volunteer I agree with P-ville resident forever! I also believe that this was not a consolidation, but a hostile take over for control by Chief Gable and Phoenix No.1. This is a very serious situation and it seems that Borough Council has been either kept in the dark about the true condition of the Fire Department or just doesn't care until someone gets hurt or killed! How can the Borough grow so much in the past years and the Fire Department get cut in size by 2/3 and still say that they are providing adequate fire protection for the residents of the Borough?
U Have No Idea October 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM
OK people, I dont think alot of you have much Idea about whats going on behind the scenes. West End has been poorly managed over the past few years for their services. 99.9% of all their personnel are paid employees that have some firefighting experience. When the borough was giving West End money for fire driver coverage, West End was lacking in providing that coverage by putting on non-fire trained personnel and the fire engine was not making it out the door on calls. (hmmm, did u know that??). Also West End was supposed to hire fire trained emergency personnel due to the nature of that business...and that was not happening as well. They were filling open spots with warm bodies that were NOT fire trained(hmmmm, did u know that as well?). Besides Mr Gautreau's comments about a lack in coverage over labor Day week end, there have been many more times were West End has lacked Paramedic Coverage and only had Basic units up because of lack of staffing and leadership,(hmmm, again did you know that??) Im not going to continue to go on. That is 3 times West End has failed you as an Emergency Service Provider that could have caused someone to die. NOW, dont get me wrong. No one can predict when an emergency can happen, and yes there will always be a lack in coverage here and there(it happens in large cities). Its going to happen and thats what mutual aid agreements are for. So listen up. This is all happening because of poor leadership. Thanks
U Have No Idea October 22, 2012 at 11:26 AM
So, you can bash West End, Phoenixville Borough, Chief Gable, Councilman Gautreau. The fact of the matter is, no matter what you will not understand whats is really happening. Not even by going to West Ends meeting will you know, because it all BEHIND CLOSE door stuff. No One really knows what there real deal is, except for the players at West End. Everyone always looks to bash someone for a problem. Well tell you what...Become part of the solution and start doing something about it...Volunteer, Get certified, and make a difference. Or shut up...Cause either way West End or another provider will provide EMS service to Phoenixville's residents and someone will die, because it is just life. Until the Government or you a citizens stop bitching and maybe put up a few more $$...Emergency Services is a hard Business...It takes ALOT of money to provide. None of you unless you are in the business will ever know how much a fire truck, an ambulane, a cardiac monitor or the life saving drungs paramedic use to save your life really cost. but I will tell you this, its a hell of alot more then the few damn dollars your bitching about. Speak you mind that fine...But until you wanna be one of these hero's or leaders and trry and make a difference. SHUT UP !!!
P-ville resident forever October 22, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I don't think I've been told to 'shut up' since elementary school. It speaks volumes of you. But in all honesty, you've made a good point. Let's look at management's records. Under Chief Gable's rein, he started with 3 strong firehouses and an abundant amount of volunteers. As stated in his resignation letter in the Patch article, he ended with 1 firehouse and lack of volunteers. The new appointed Chief shows up at the borough meeting in a t-shirt and jeans to be introduced. Nice. On the 2 hour video of the borough meeting, West End's newly appointed ALS coordinator, Ron Sigismonti Jr, addresses and acknowledges the internal issues. The borough went into an 'executive session' and the video stopped recording. The aftermath of the meeting is where the borough came out and opened bids to outside providers. Let's look at that. How about we give the newly appointed borough councilmen one month to change the wrong doings in their position. Doesn't sound fair, does it?
U Have No Idea October 22, 2012 at 01:49 PM
OK...well lets look at this. 2 stong firehouse and an abundant of volunteers...NOT...West End was 99% all paid when he took over. Friendship had a few volunteers....a Paid driver...U might have gotten 2 or 3 on a working fire...other then that, no one then a OLD driver that was a bartender....Almost ALL of the volunteers came out of the firehouse that is still in effect. As for West End's new coordinator....He has issues internally that have been there for months that West Ends management for months and even a year NEVER addressed before. So I dont wanna here what you have to say, cause you, like most people are only hearing a few facts. And as for his resignation letter. Yes a lack of volunteers..As in Almost every other firehouse in the US. Lets see you work 45-50 hours a week, support a family, go to your kids functions, have a social life....and then take fire schools, that encompass the basics of 8 months to a year to be a ceritified firefighter with going to school 2 nights a week and like 1 weekend a month and see how you handle it. Oh and lets not forget responding to fire calls at all hours of the night, fundraisers on weekends, weekly in house training for another night a week.hmmmm lets see if you can stick it out.I too am a resident and have seen it elsewhere and you have not one clue..Bars and Firehouse's dont mix as well as egotistical residents that dont have a clue other then what they hear. I say, drop it and join the Fire dept if u wanna make a diff.
LocalGirl October 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Agreed, P-ville Resident Forever, and Past Volunteer. I, too, have served this boro for years. I have volunteered, gotten certified, and made a difference. So I will not "shut up" either. Apparently "U Have No Idea" is missing some information as well. Here's some food for thought. If I'm not mistaken, the Boro's Fire Department Ordinance is posted on-line. West End Fire and EMS is still listed as part of the Phoenixville Fire Department, and has been the entire time of the Gable/Buckwalter/Gautreau era. In fact, for several years before the "consolidation," John Buckwalter was the chief from West End. Post- "consolidation," Chief Gable made it clear he was handling firefighting, so apparently EMS was handed over to Deputy Chief Buckwalter. So if West End has become such a problem over the past few years; is so lacking in professionialism; and is giving sub-par service (and honestly, due to lack of internal management, I do not disagree with some points about that)-- then either Mr. Buckwalter was not doing his job, per the Boro Ordinance, or he was not competent to do his job. Ironically, at the same meeting where Council questions West End's service record, they approve Buckwalter as the incoming Fire Chief! Fantastic! And oh, btw, don't be concerned about Chief Buckwalter showing up for his introduction in tee-shirt and jeans. He manages building fires in tee-shirt and shorts. Just sayin'.....
U Have No Idea October 22, 2012 at 02:07 PM
As usual a cetain LOUD mouth no it all female who has been a the route of some problems in this borough has to open her mouth and take personal jabs at people. My only jab is that if youthink they are so wrong at what they are trying to do or accomplish. Then step up, man up (or woman up) and become a member of the dept. and try to make it better. The Fire Dept, council and fire dept officers have done an amazing job with the hand they have been delt with all the problems faced. I applaud all of them and hope that with the new year close by we all look forward to a Great Beginning under Chief Buckwalter and say Thanks to Chief Gable. Im sure some of you will have more negative comments...So say them..But remember, one day you might need there help, and they are doing what they can. Look, They are volunteers. You could pay more $$$ and have an entire paid Fire EMS system that would have even less people and then who knows waht could happen cause your all to worried about bashing instead of helping...so, you too can make a difference and join in the quest to make it a better place to live, work and even volunteer....God Bless
P-ville resident forever October 22, 2012 at 02:11 PM
The new ALS coordinator hasn't been there during the past months or years. He JUST STARTED and the borough isn't giving him a chance. You made your obvious career choice, now you're complaining about it and asking others to do what you do. I'm as confused as you are. You should educate yourself on the history of volunteerism, bars/ social halls/ firehouses/ charter organizations and know how your career was established, who was running the calls (those bartenders) and where it's going. Obviously you're not happy doing what you do. So while you're giving career advise, you should find one that YOU'RE happy with.
LocalGirl October 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
U Have No Idea-- Considering that I am a member, and have been tossed out of meetings when I have tried to help find solutions (you want a loud mouth, listen to the yelling of the MEN in the room who threw me out. 2 of the 3 were smart enough to realize they were out of line and apoligized later. The 3rd is our incoming Chief. Very professional.) As a side note, I volunteer in multiple other areas of the community besides EMS. What did you say you do? As for personal jabs, I have taken none, only spoken the truth. But funny how someone took to facebook and took personal jabs at me...and when I pointed how inappropriate that was for an elected public official, the posts mysteriously disappeared. As did a previous negative comment on this site. How handy. By the way, "spell check" might come in handy when you are typing. Just saying.
Goddess October 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM
http://phoenixville.patch.com/articles/west-end-fire-co-alleges-council-has-compromised-safety-of-residents?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

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